Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Un air de famille - Family Resemblances

1996 by Cedric Klapisch  - watching 3rd time.

Some movies just grow as we repeat them. Un air de famille is one such movie and it just gets more and more as my favourite, each time the show is over.

A middle class family, a mother, 2 sons and a daughter, gathers in the restaurant of one son to celebrate the birthday of the other son's wife. The restaurant owner is afraid, his wife getting late is a sign of her walking out of the marriage. The other son, who is most well off of all, is obsessed with his brief show in a tv news. There is also a worker from the restaurant who have had some dates with the daughter. 

It is a pure family affair actually, just the worker as an outsider, but who is so close to his boss, trying to support him in his bad times. In fact the gathering soon takes its turn and everybody is poking at the others. Past history, grudges, accolades, soar spots all turn into the whole dialogues here. The movie begins with the arrival of the family, separately of course, and ends with the departure of all. Its only a matter of few hours. But within this few hours, all the discussions takes us deep into the life of this family and gives a clear idea about all these characters. We finally know that the mother actually only cared for his well to do son and the restaurant owner guy is actually the scapegoat at everything. He has a difficult nature, obviously also because of all this poking at him from the childhood, and he must have been not that considerate with his wife should be the reason why she wants to walk out. But it is quite clear that under the mask of a happy couple, it is actually the well off son who treats his wife really badly, though his wife suffers a lot and still acts like a perfect wife. The daughter is yet to find a life partner and is not sure about her brothers worker, she has gone out with him in the past though. But the final effect of this whole gathering just reveals to her that there is more to this man than she thought. He is more kind, generous and seems to understand women better than both her brothers.

The movie is brilliant as it draws out a family in front of us through a family meeting. No actions or anything, just some inter action between the family members. More dialogues and expressions actually, not exactly like how a Mike Leigh movie would turn out, but this is a real close call, just in the French way. Everything is actually very serious, but we cant help smiling while watching it.

Brillaint setting, script and performances by all the actors. And a very special mention to Catherine Frot, who played the wife of the well to do son. That was an incredibly brilliant performance. Her last scene, in which she laughs about the worker going to be a new family member was ridiculously brilliant.

My appreciation for this movie has grown three folds, since I first watched it some years back. And I am sure that French are maestros of movie making.